Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Things To Do

June 12, 2014

REVIEW: ‘American Icon’ shows an astounding array of talent

CROSSVILLE — On-stage at the Cumberland County Playhouse recently, an astounding array of talent was on display. Education Director Weslie Webster had brought together all of the children, youth and even a few adults who are a part of the dance programs offered at the Playhouse. I will not attempt to list the names. Many were in several parts of the program. All were delightful to watch.

It was Memorial Day weekend. Two levels of Musical Theater classes moved to the tune of "Yankee Doodle Dandy." Their movements skillful choreographed by Leila Nelson.

What were the icons of your childhood? We saw creative movement to “Sesame Street,” tap to “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah,” beginning interpretive acting to “Dr. Seuss,” “Superheroes” with jazz dancing, and who better than “Winnie the Pooh” for ballet.

I began to grasp the importance icons have in shaping who we are as we moved into “Icons of Innovation.” Modern dance celebrated Neil Armstrong in space, then came tap focusing on Thomas Edison. Jazz reminded us of Andy Warhol. Alli Crain led the wee ones in pre-ballet as Henry Ford was the icon of an era. Michael Ruff and Daniel Black had staged “Shine Your Way” with those in musical theater classes.

Icons of the cinema. Who would yours be? Ginger Rogers, Audrey Hepburn, Ed Sullivan, Shirley Temple and Marilyn Monroe were celebrated by classes in musical theater, ballet, acting, tap and modern dance. The emerging talents of choreographers Leila Nelson and Emily Swafford were obvious.

Of course, there were iconic athletes brought to us by beginning and advanced tumbling classes and the more advance modern dance and hip-hop groups. Stevie Beaty choreographed these.

Literary icons Harper Lee, Mark Twain and F. Scott Fitzgerald as well as the speeches of Abraham Lincoln, FDR, JFK and Martin Luther King Jr. provided the background

photos for advanced ballet, acting, modern and point II ballet. 

Who would be your icons of music? Michael Jackson, Judy Garland, Elvis. James Brown and Frank Sinatra appeared as photo backgrounds for classes in hip-hop, advanced classes in tap, musical theater and ballet.

As the public service icons of Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and John F. Kennedy appeared, I mused on our icons of that group today. Leila Nelson and Caitlin Schaub had brought unique dance sequences by the most advanced classes in tap, jazz and ballet to the stage.

The introductions by Tana McDonald, Kelley Camera, Crystal Bagci and Katey Dailey highlighted the importance of the icons before each segment.

Jim Crabtree, as producing director, and all of his Playhouse staff gift the children, youth and adults of this area with remarkable opportunity. Not only does one learn to move one's feet and one's body, but those who participate are challenged to use their minds.

The words that echoed in my thoughts at the end of the evening came from JFK: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” As we each ponder those words for ourselves, we give thanks for the education program that does so much for our community and brings challenge to participants and audience alike.      

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